London — Paul McCartney is back with us, has a new album, some thoughts on leading the happy life, and several succinct words about Allen Klein.
The new album, due out in the United States and England on April 17th is one that Paul has recorded by himself over the past few months. Paul describes the origins of the music as “starting out in little bits and pieces, including tunes and melodies from five years ago.” Most of the recording was done at home.
“I play all the instruments myself. From very early on, when our bass player died, I have been lumbered with the bass. All the time, however, what I really wanted to do was play guitar and play lead, so that’s what I’ve done on the new LP. And I’ve played all those things I’ve always wanted to play. I played bass, drums, guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, organ, bongos, and rhythms and things — there aren’t many more instruments than that. If you ask if I play violins and balalaikas, the answer is nay.
“The only other noise on the album is my wife helping with the harmonies. We had a lot of fun together. We decided we didn’t want to tell anyone what we were doing or go to any companies. We went off to the studios without telling anyone and that way it gets to be like home at the studio. No one knows about it and there is no one in the studio or dropping by wanting to leap in on us with their hang-ups.
“And it was just swell working with my wife again!”
Allen Klein, it turns out, does not manage nor does he represent Paul McCartney.
When directly questioned on this point several months ago (Rolling Stone, November 29, 1969) Klein emphatically stated that Paul McCartney had overcome his initial reluctance to sign with him, and had in fact signed a management/representation contract.
Paul completely and totally denied this. “The thing is that I am not signed with Allen Klein because I don’t like him and I don’t think he is the man for me however much the other three like him. I have read in Rolling Stone that he said those things, that he said I signed a contract with him, but it is not true. Paul McCartney did not sign any contract with Allen Klein. The time has come where I’ve got to let him know that.”
About this, and about the Beatles in general, one of the points Paul makes is this:
“In the very early days of the Beatles, we sort of thought of ourselves as a democracy. But nothing ever came to a vote — the chemistry of the four of us made the decisions naturally. John dominated the group in making the decisions and John and I dominated the group musically. What’s happened now is that each of us has become very strong individuals in our own right. Now it has to be a four way decision. There has to be a vote and it has to be a more democratic thing.”
The following is the complete conversation with Paul, covering the above points and many more:
The new album is one which I have recorded at home a few months ago. I got a tape recorder that could make masters and have done most of it at home. The music started in little bits and pieces, including tunes and melodies from five years ago. It is better to do the vocals at home because there is no engineer looking through the glass at you. Some of the songs were done at home. Some of the tapes were done at a studio.
It is a good album and it took two months to make.
I don’t want to say what the titles are or what’s on the LP. One thing I realized is that it would be great to surprise everyone. There is so much talk in advance that when it finally happens, when the album finally comes out, everyone knows about it already. I think it will be nicer to receive the album not knowing what it is going to be. It is nicer as a surprise.
What’s the difference between playing with yourself and playing with four different people or three other people? What things does it lead to?
It’s just two different things completely. When you play with yourself you get involved like I imagine like a painter would get involved with just doing the thing and only that thing. When other people are involved, it obviously means that you have to listen a lot more to other decisions and weigh the decisions and then come out with your own decision unless you are capable of just agreeing with everything that everyone says, which I am not.
So that’s the main difference — it’s less of a hassle playing with yourself than it is really playing with anyone else. But it also obviously lacks the activity of the other — it’s not as fast as the other — playing with yourself is sort of a slower, more methodical thing. It is the opposite of playing with others — that’s what it’s like.
What kind of different musical things would this lead to?
It’s only a method of working. I think the musical results sound the same to me, because I’m aiming for the same thing. I still like the same kind of music, I still try to achieve the same kind of music as I would if I were playing with the Beatles. The same thing exactly in my mind. I still hear the same tune with its same arrangement and that tune and arrangement I then try and achieve. That’s what it’s about.
Are there any interesting stories about how some of the songs came to be?
Yes. What we’re doing about that is we got some people at the office [Apple] to ask some questions just on paper, you know, and they sent them over to our house and I just filled them out like an essay, like a school thing, so that’s a sort of interview. The kind of questions you’ve been asking, but with shorter answers. So there’s that.
Where’s that going?
We’re doing a kit with the album which is an information thing. It should be nice to receive, the way we’re playing it. All the answers to this whole thing we’re doing are really supposed to be in the record and what goes on around it. That’s the idea, that’s the fun of it. It’s to just sort of lay something on you. But I’m not going to tell you anything about it until it’s laid on you because I won’t be able to explain it. It’s much nicer as a surprise.
Do you have any ballads on the record that are strong as “Let It Be” or “Hey Jude”?
Yeah, I think so. I can never tell. I was worried stiff when “Hey Jude” came out just in case it wasn’t any good. I wasn’t sure if it was any good. I can never tell. But I know that on this record there are some great tracks.
What about Allen Klein?
The thing is I am not signed with Allen Klein because I don’t like him and I don’t think he is the man for me, however much the other three like him. Allen Klein has me by implicaion but that is a misapprehension. The truth is he only has three quarters of the Beatles and in fact he doesn’t have the Beatles. He is definitely the manager of John, George and Ringo but I have asked him and I have told him that he doesn’t manage me.
Unless I see someone fantastic who I feel can really speak for me, I will not have a manager and Allen Klein is definitely not that man.
I have read in Rolling Stone that he said those things, that he said I signed a contract with him but it is not true. Paul McCartney did not sign any contract with Allen Klein.
About our contract with Capitol and what Klein did, it is a deal that anyone would have done. I am not going to be represented by Allen Klein and not even on deals with Capitol and EMI. The time has come where I’ve got to let him know that.
What is the exact development of the relationship?
Well, it’s a long, long story. I’d prefer really just to tell you the outcome than going into the ins and outs and ups and downs of it, there are plenty of those.
The outcome is that he in fact doesn’t manage me, and he doesn’t represent me, and therefore he isn’t what he appears to be in the trade and in the newspapers that he talks to.
Really what happened was he came to London wanting to realize his ambition of managing the Beatles. At first I was willing to let him try, really, but I’ve since learned — for me — that he’s not good enough and so I don’t want him to represent me. And that’s really it. That’s all there is to it.
How do you feel about Apple now?
Apple is the office and at the moment, I don’t find much fun in offices. I never did. I only enjoyed it as a novelty. I woke up one day on the phone and I was talking and I didn’t mean anything I said. I heard myself doing business. But I didn’t want it.
Apple is a good organization and it does well, but it just doesn’t interest me. Just like EMI and Capitol doesn’t interest me. I am getting fed up with business and businessmen.
For me life at home is what is interesting now. I have two kids, a wife of one year and everything at home. I love being at home and I love music. That is largely what interests me and I am not looking for anything else to interest me.
What do you think now about the whole “Paul is dead” affair?
I couldn’t understand it. First, someone said ‘There’s a rumor going around that you’re dead.’ My first reaction really was just to think ‘great,’ really, just like James Dean. I just immediately pulled myself back into 15-year-old suburbia where I saw the James Dean thing enact itself. I was just pleased, you know, because I knew I wasn’t dead.
So I just watched the play happen. The only time where it got unfortunate was when we got to Scotland: people weren’t content with watching the play enact itself, they wanted to come up and involve themselves in our time. I lost complete track of what I was saying then, but I’m sure you understand.
Did you find it in Scotland that it got to a point where you didn’t find it humorous, anymore?
Oh no, I never really. I got it from the office the first time and someone said, “You’re dead,” so I thought, oh, well, that’s funny, that’s James Dean, blah, blah. And then I forgot about it. Then I saw it in a newspaper and I thought, well, that’s still amusing. I got to Scotland and then people began to interfere then because in Scotland people stick out like sore thumbs, and if they’re press men [reporters] they stick out like even sorer thumbs and if they’re ugly press men then forget it and they were you know … generally speaking, so it did get to be not funny. But I can laugh about it now, Folks.
Will there be another Beatles album?
No one has mentioned anything about doing another Beatles album. I don’t like Get Back being held back so long. This is one of the reasons I don’t want Klein. It is silly to blame him but the holding of the Get Back album now is humorous. The LP is looking to be a joke, for it is a bit of a cliff hanger. I would like to have seen it out three months ago and now I don’t even remember making it.
The Get Back film is a good film. And it is a real film. The troubles are in it as well as the happy moments.
In the very early days of the Beatles we sort of thought of ourselves as a democracy. But nothing ever came to a vote — the chemistry of the four of us made the decisions naturally. John dominated the group in making the decisions and John and I dominated the group musically. What’s happened now is that each of us has become very strong individuals in our own right. Now it has to be a four way decision. There has to be a vote and it has got to be a more democratic thing.
What about your relationship with John? He tells me that you haven’t spoken to him in two months.
I don’t know really. Normally I would phone him or go out to Weybridge and visit him, as I have done a lot in the past. I was that kind of person. But now I don’t go out at all and I don’t bother looking for it any more. I would rather be in bed than at the clubs.
He hasn’t called me and I haven’t called him but it doesn’t mean anything. We haven’t had an argument.
John is very busy at the moment. I don’t like to be busy. I don’t feel the need to. Neither of us really want to talk to each other at the moment. If we run into each other at Apple or we are making a record, I would see him but otherwise I really don’t call him. That is the way it has always been. In fact, the truth of the matter is we just haven’t called each other up lately. I don’t really think about it. I will see him when I see him. And I love him just the same.